Sierra Hull: Guitar is her “Second Instrument”

In this living room video, Sierra Hull is joined by mandolinist Carl Berggren and I believe Sierra’s father on bass, on the bluegrass standard Roanoke.

Now if you are not familiar with Sierra, she is very famous in bluegrass for her mandolin playing…. after you are done watching this video, do check this outShe is outrageous.

So, this is Sierra on guitar… call it her “second instrument”

I’ll tell you this… if you flatpick, just try getting out that first melody part of this song, my guess is,  unless your name is Cody Kilby or David Grier, you won’t be able to get it out. In fact, I’m gonna say that most flatpickers are not capable of ripping this tune out at this speed.

So how is she doing it and making it look so easy?

Well for this flatpicking guitarist, I’m not entirely sure of the exact pattern Sierra uses for the opening line, but I have a pretty good idea of a lot of it that I use that I’ll share with you now.

The concept is one that I’ve been working on for years that  involves conservation of energy. One of the tricks is, if you are moving your pick in one direction, you want to stay with that motion. So as an example, instead of going down, up, down, up,  Sierra may be going down down, up, or up up down on different strings. She’s also using hammer ons and pull offs with the left hand whenever possible, as to not have to strike the pick with every single note. But one of the keys with the pull offs and hammer ons is to keep you pick moving in the same direction for the next note that needs to be picked. Now at some point I will have to do a video myself showing how this is done, but in the meantime it’s at least a little something to think about and try if you can understand the concept. Also too, take a look at her right hand position. It’s not a fist, but close to it, with the fingers mostly closed, not gripping that hard. That’s another key as well, the hand position.

You may ask how could she learn such a thing being so young? I think the answer would be that it just came naturally.

So, something that other pickers work on their whole life to accomplish, Sierra comes around and just does it…

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